Women in Film

What the what? I find myself wanting to say:

“I can’t believe in 2016 we’re still dealing with  ______”

The blank being sexism, racism, extreme income inequality, and just a general uncaring attitude for our fellow human beings.

Then I remember that to solve these problems you have to (1.) want them to be solved, and (2.) actually do something to move towards a solution.

I could go on, but I’ll get back to my point, which isn’t far off from the above. You see, filmmakers who are women are constantly left out of major scale production processes, despite the fact that large amounts of women are enrolled in film related degrees.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why does that matter?” #RightMattDamon

Well, dear reader, as we all live life with our own perspectives, we create with them too. For instance, I, a young woman from a rural town in Michigan, would tell a very different coming of age story than a young man from Boston, even if the root of the message was planted in the same place. To take this further, and simplify it more, Alfred Hitchcock’s decisions in capturing the female body on film is  very  different than what I would expect from (most) female filmmakers. This holds true when considering race, nationality, religion, and other identifying factors, as they all effect the way we focus our own lenses.

Laura Mulvey kicks off this discussion with her Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema, and there are many  more authors who discuss the same topic, with a variety of focuses.

So why is Hollywood still refusing to support female Filmmakers?

My official answer, who the F knows.
The actual answer, dolla dolla bills y’all.

Until recently it was felt, pretty strongly, that female led anything wouldn’t fare well at the box office, whether the female involvement was in front of – or behind – the camera. In fact, the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Directing was Kathryn Bigelow, in 2010 for The Hurt Locker (2008), and while there’s a lot to be said about her win (with particular attention to the subject matter and extreme lack of female characters), I will save that for a future post.

In total four women (including Bigelow) have been nominated for a directing Oscar. As of this year’s Oscars, it has been 6 years since a woman has gotten a director nod.

From the article:

To put this into perspective, in the six-year period since Bigelow’s nod, David O. Russell has been nominated three times (for The Social Network,Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle), Alexander Payne twice (forThe Descendants and Nebraska), Martin Scorsese twice (for Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street), and Iñarritu twice (also for Birdman). Women, as a whole: Zero times.”

Now, earlier in this semester, I argued that Mad Max: Fury Road was emblematic of a shift in cultural expectations in the U.S. film market, but retrospectively I’m not so sure.

I give you: Carol

Beautifully shot by Todd Haynes, Carol, a film with an almost exclusively female led cast, was nominated, but not for Best Director, or Best Picture, and it won no Oscars or Golden Globes. Looking at my Facebook friend’s lists of films for 2015, many of them had Carol at the bottom. I didn’t ask why, and I probably should have, because I have no idea why it was so widely hated.

What I do know is that Carol came under fire for it’s lack of male characters, of which (if memory serves) there were four with speaking parts. Misandry! They cried.

Interesting, considering The Hurt Locker had one woman with a speaking part, but it won a significant number of Oscars. Which is not to say that the movie should have had more women, maybe it should have, but would that serve the story? My point was, more men with central roles in Carol wouldn’t have served the story, and thus, were not necessary. So why is it that audiences can’t accept a lack of men in film, but little to no women are palatable?

But, I mean, it’s not like women make up 50% of the world or anything. 🎬


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